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How Europe is better at protecting data than the U.S. — and what the Stasi has to do with it

From a European perspective, the scandal around Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of Facebook FB, +0.74% data could scarcely come at a more apt moment, little more than two months before the European Union introduces a comprehensive update to its privacy laws.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will explicitly ban companies from soliciting personal data for one reason and then using it for another. It will slap potentially stratospheric fines on those who sell people’s information without those people’s consent, and place strict limitations on companies that want to create and use profiles of individuals.

These activities are at the core of the current furor, and Europe — so often seen as anti-innovation on such issues — suddenly seems ahead of the curve.

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